The Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) has been called upon to publish historical data on gas flare penalty payments and distribution by oil companies operating in the Niger Delta since 1984 when gas flaring was prohibited.
The call was made by Iniobong Usen, Programme Lead, Open Data and Extractives, Policy Alert, during an interview with journalists on the sidelines of an event organized by the organization in Uyo to mark the 2020 International Open Data Week. The International Open Data Day was marked across the globe on March 7, 2020.
Speaking during the media chat, Usen stated that although the federal government formally declared gas flaring illegal in 1984, there have since then been several shifts in flare-out deadline. “As if the ridiculous penalties for flaring are not bad enough, we are in a situation where the actual penalties paid into government coffers are shared to all parts of Nigeria without any special consideration for the communities suffering the impact of the gas flaring,” he said.
“To enable us have a clearer picture of the damage to these communities and also to empower communities to make effective demands, DPR should publish historical data on volumes of gas flared since the prohibition in 1984, how much penalties it has received for gas flaring by companies, and how much losses government has incurred due to its inaction on this matter each year since then” Usen stressed.
He stated that the government cannot be rewarding itself for its own negligence, pointing out that was unfair to be sharing the gas flare penalties to federating units in Nigeria, oblivious to the reality that communities close to flare sites suffer untold hardships as a direct consequence of their exposure to these flares.
“If Nigeria as a member of the Global Gas Flaring Reduction Partnership (GGFP) has abandoned the 2020 deadline and is now adopting the 2030 World Bank-driven flare-out date, we should know. Then we would be left with no option than to demand that a derivation formula be adopted to share gas flare revenues in the next 10 years until flare-out such that the penalties can be deployed to assuage the pains of those bearing the brunt of the flares,” he said.
Policy Alert, is a non-governmental organization working for improved economic and environmental governance in Nigeria.